I’ll be honest with you, until the start of my MSc Management programme in September 2021, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. I had accepted my offer, completed my pre-study modules in the summer and scrolled through the programme web pages more times than I could count. And yet, I still felt out of my league.
I did my undergraduate degree in psychology. What little business-related knowledge I had was from working at my family business before starting my studies at Imperial College Business School. I had no clue how I would fare approaching a new line-up of modules and topics I have never touched on before.
It would come as a pleasant surprise that the MSc Management programme is, well, quite manageable.
Everyone takes the first step together
Imperial constructed the MSc Management programme for students with little to no academic background in business or management. Rest assured that the programme’s infrastructure will fill in any gaps in your knowledge and provide you with plenty of opportunities to put your skills to practical use. For students who come from a business background, you might be more suited to the MSc International Management programme.
Keep in mind that you and your peers start the programme from the basics together. The mandatory core modules in the Autumn and Spring terms are there to lay out the foundations of your journey at Imperial and for your future career path.
However, keep in mind that the skills and experiences you have collected so far will not be wasted. If anything, your background – whatever it may be – will more likely be an advantage than a disadvantage.
What demonstrated this point to me was being part of my syndicate team. A syndicate team is the people you will work with on group coursework during the first term. You meet your syndicate team early in the programme during induction week, where you will have the opportunity to get to know each other through a series of activities.
Many teams, if not all, will realise from the get-go that the composition of their members is very diverse. Everyone in my six-person team originated from a different country and studied entirely different subjects for our undergraduate degrees.
A group of diverse backgrounds and experiences
Group coursework seemed intimidating at first, especially early on when we had yet to gauge each other’s skills and knowledge. However, we were quickly able to turn our diverse backgrounds into an advantage when generating ideas and dividing up work according to each person’s strengths and interests.
The first graded assignment of the MSc Management programme was a group project for our Marketing Decisions module. The assignment gave us the freedom to create a product – either something completely brand new or a build-on to an already existing product or service – and to formulate a marketing plan for it. Each of us volunteered to undertake a section of the marketing plan we’re most interested in and split off to complete our tasks.
Incidentally, the product we decided to develop required psychological research to support the validity and benefits of our offering. I was happy to take up the role of digging further into the psychological theory behind our product, given my familiarity with scouring through research papers.
While I had enjoyed studying psychology during my undergraduate years, I realised that I did not want to enter the medical or academic fields as an occupation. Instead, I discovered great satisfaction in this project, where I was able to conduct psychological research for marketing purposes and see how these concepts could be incorporated into our product.
It was a relief to realise that my research skills and my background in psychology have not become irrelevant just because I am now at business school. In fact, the two subjects blend into each other very well and consolidated my decision to pursue the marketing specialism of the programme later in the academic year.
An integrated approach to business school
By choosing to study at Imperial, you don’t merely go to lectures, do your coursework, and take your exams. Imperial integrates opportunities to take an extra step into the core of its programme, which will translate into habits and experiences you can apply beyond your time in university.
Being assigned to a syndicate team is one striking example of this. Nowadays, collaborating with an international, cross-functional team is more often the norm than the exception. In addition, being able to flexibly communicate through a hybrid of in-person meetings and online video calls has only become more prevalent as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is understandable to feel unprepared and anxious. Like most team-based projects, you will all get a little lost together sometimes. At other times, you will also figure out many things together.
Recognise that everyone, including you, has something to bring to the table.